Two Dutch Girls on a Road Trip to Wiltshire

Road Trip 2017 (2) - Richmond to Chawton to Salisbury.

Good afternoon! Would you like to join me for the second part of my road trip in the South-West of England? A long time wish of my daughter...

Saturday, 11 January 2014

Should Zadkine's sculpture be moved? YES! It should!

The two bear cubs, by Grimdalen

Being Rotterdam-born, I feel I have the birth-right to give my opinion about a matter which is very dear to the hearts of many Rotterdam-born people (whether they still live in this wind-blown town or not).

And I am given to having very strong opinions.
My knowledge of Rotterdam sculptures was nurtured by both my beloved Gran and my mother, who never tired of pointing them out to me. At the tender age of 2 (this is one of my earliest memories) I cuddled the bronze bears on the Lijnbaan. This sculpture was given to Rotterdam by the Norwegian people, and I loved it.

I also liked the oldest sculpture we have in Rotterdam, by Hendrick de Keyser, who sculpted Dutch humanist Erasmus in 1622, and which you can still see at the Grotekerkplein in front of the St. Laurens church.
Erasmus, by Hendrick de Keyser

My mother whispered of family connections; Erasmus was one of my forebears, she said. Hm...Perhaps my writing gene was passed down from him? Anyway...I do see a vague resemblance in the shape of the face, mouth, nose.

 (Mind you, my mother's Grandmother looks to be of Spanish descent in the only surviving photograph of her, which isn't that far-fetched, as we were conquered by the Spanish in the 16th century. And I was once told in the Seventies that there was surely a black forefather in my history as I had a tendency to walk through the doctor's office where I worked as a temp on bare feet, and have a rare anemia seen mostly in coloured people. Honestly, with hindsight, the arrogance of that doctor to tell me this solely based on my Flower Power appearance!)

But what this blog is really about, is the statue "The Devastated City" (or Jan Hole, Jan Gat, as it is known to Rotterdam people) by Ossip Zadkine.
Now, I'd love to show you a photograph of this amazing sculpture, were it not that apparently there is a ban, as I cannot upload one from Google images. 
So, I'll describe it to you. It is made of metal, modern, grey, has not a little in common with Picasso's way of depicting limbs, and it screams. Moreover, it has a hole where the heart should be. The other facts about it are: that it is situated on Plein 1940, it is a memorial to the Nazi bombardment of Rotterdam on May 10th 1940, and that Rotterdam people hated it when it was first erected.
As a child I hated it too, as it frightened me and did not look at all like Bambi.

But the thing grows on you. And now there is talk of moving it to another location, namely the square in front of the new Central Station. Not quite at the heart of the bombardment, but not that far from it either. 

And I think this is an amazing idea! This square is where many tourists get their first heady whiff of Rotterdam, the wind from the harbour blowing straight into their faces and then this Jan Gat standing there as a reminder of the ravages of war. One person, when asked by AD newspaper, said he hoped the council would put it on a large pedestal, where people could sit and rest awhile. It would give Rotterdam a war memorial as imposing as that of Amsterdam, better even! (When you are Dutch, you  understand the everlasting rivalry between Rotterdam and Amsterdam)
And again, I agree. It would be great!
Oh! Look! Found an image after all!